Fighting license proliferation at its core: Mighty and Beastie Licenses
Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M.
roddixon at cyberspaces.org
Mon Sep 12 18:37:00 UTC 2005
As you suggest, a lawyer and an engineer may view the same problem
differently and, therefore, come up with different solutions. I have
noticed that engineers often, but, not always, refer to issuses by using
binary values (e.g., verbose or short, "exactly precise" or imprecision).
I think the goal is for the text of a license to be written as succinct,
clear, and straightforward as possible. In my opinion, a license that is
too laconic or too verbose usually will not meet this goal.
...... Original Message .......
On Mon, 12 Sep 2005 10:03:44 -0700 David Barrett <dbarrett at quinthar.com>
>On Mon, 12 Sep 2005 7:14 am, Chris Zumbrunn wrote:
>> Assuming a license would be drafted well, is it true that "verbose"
>> means "better for the courts"? The argument in favor of non-verbose
>> licenses would be that they allow the courts to interpret the license
>> the way it was intended, as appropriate for the given jurisdiction, and
>> that non-verbose licenses are less troublesome regarding the
>> translation to other languages.
>By "verbose" do you mean:
>- extremely precise, and/or
>- complicated (to the layman)
>I think we can all agree that a license should be no longer nor
>complicated than absolutely necessary. But it seems the question is
>whether "extremely precise" is "absolutely necessary".
>Given that law is not C and that courts have greater interpretive
>flexibility than compilers, I think the argument has merit that
>attempting exact precision might be counterproductive if the same effect
>could have been achieved -- with less length and complexity -- by
>relying on the court to resolve the fine details.
>Furthermore, it's possible that in the pursuit of exact precision you
>might define something in a non-optimal way. For example, two
>jurisdictions might have different optimal definitions for "code", and
>by forcing one in the license it might be disadvantageous in the other.
>Repeat with changing law, different languages, different precedent,
>Thus I agree it seems possible that an intentionally and carefully
>imprecise license might actually be stronger than one where precision
>Not being a lawyer I can only guess at the legal strength of the above
>argument. But being Joe engineer, I can say that I place a premium on
>short and non-complicated (to a layman), and if you can accomplish both
>through selective imprecision, without reducing the strength of the
>license, then you'll certainly get more of my support.
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